- Traders have stayed in home countries rather than face charges
- SFO started criminal proceedings against 11 traders last year
U.K. prosecutors have obtained arrest warrants against five bankers who failed to appear to face charges for rigging a key interest-rate benchmark.
The five Euribor traders at Deutsche Bank AG and Societe Generale SA have remained in their home countries rather than come to London to face the charges, lawyers for the Serious Fraud Office said at a court in the U.K. capital Friday. The six other traders that have been charged in the case attended the hearing.
The extradition process will be a major test for the embattled SFO after it dropped a probe into currency rigging earlier this week and in January lost a trial against six brokers who were accused of conspiring to manipulate the London interbank offered rate.
The U.K. prosecutor started criminal proceedings against 11 traders who worked at Deutsche Bank AG, Barclays Plc and Societe Generale SA in November for allegedly conspiring to "procure or make submissions" that were false in relation to the euro interbank offered rate between 2005 and 2009. They were the first to face charges globally in relation to Euribor, the euro counterpart of Libor.
The traders facing arrest include several who worked at Deutsche Bank -- Andreas Hauschild, Joerg Vogt, Ardalan Gharagozlou, and Kai-Uwe Kappauf -- as well as ex-Societe Generale trader Stephane Esper.
Contest in France
Esper’s Paris lawyer, Francois de Castro, said Thursday that his client would contest any warrant in France.
“The problem here is that he’s being charged for facts that happened several years ago and he has been deprived of the track record of his time at the bank,” de Castro said in an interview.
Sara George, Vogt’s lawyer, declined to comment on the arrest warrants while lawyers for the three others didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The warrants are typically valid throughout the 28-nation European Union, but suspects can challenge them in their home countries over jurisdiction and double jeopardy issues.
The case might even become a part of the fight over whether Britain remains in the European Union. Lawyers backing staying in the region say the warrant process is a key to keeping the U.K. safe.
The EAW is one of the EU criminal justice measures that the U.K. opted in to," Edward Jones, a London-based lawyer at Hodge Jones & Allen who isn’t part of the report, said in a phone interview. “If ‘Brexit’ were to happen then the U.K. would have to enter into bilateral extradition arrangements with each individual EU country."
The warrant process has streamlined extradition procedures that can take from 48 days to a year in contested cases, according to a report by U.K. lawyers campaigning to stay in the EU.
The remaining six individuals: former Deutsche Bank trader Christian Bittar and one-time colleague Achim Kraemer, ex-Barclays employees Philippe Moryoussef, Colin Bermingham, Carlo Palombo and Sisse Bohart, appeared to face the charges in January. The six defendants are scheduled to stand trial in September 2017 in London with a plea hearing planned for this December.